2 February 2021

The 2021 European meeting of ISMPP: Day 2 key take-homes and insights

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Day 2 key take-homes and insights

This year’s ISMPP EU meeting went fully virtual, with some striking changes to the format, and delivered some powerful insights into current topics in medical publications and planning. You can read our thoughts on Day 1 here. This is what we learned from Day 2.

Opening Remarks & Plenary – Needs, Expectations and the Future of Scientific Communications: What Do Our Key Stakeholders Really Think?

James Read (Director of Policy and Communications, MSD) asserted that publications are central to scientific enterprise and reputation. They enshrine the value of an organization’s efforts and are a key component of an organization’s scientific profile and reputation.

The multi-stakeholder ISMPP panel stressed that the value of publications is optimized by involving publication experts early in evidence generation discussions. Thinking about publications early allows the opportunity to schedule communications around key data read outs and to identify optimum channels and partners for data dissemination, as well as maximizing the time available to put the necessary steps and relationships into place.

Danie du Plessis (Executive Vice-president Medical, Kyowa Kirin International plc.) also suggested that publication planning should be superseded by ‘data dissemination planning’. This repositioning better reflects the expanding role of the publication professional as a communication consultant, who can provide advice and strategic insights into the optimum channels and formats for sharing different data types.

A range of areas were highlighted as core to excellence in data dissemination.

  • Robust understanding of real-world evidence and patient reported outcomes.
  • Communications expertise across social media channels.
  • Ability to identify and collaborate with patients and patient advisory groups to inform meaningful data generation and patient-facing communications.
  • Ability to identify and support digital thought leaders.
  • Ability to pre-empt need for consultation with compliance teams when working across new media channels.

Keynote: Ableism in Medical Research and Impact on Health Equality

Data from 2018-2019 show that around 20% of people in the UK are living with disability. Clinical trials do not reflect this proportion, and there are no comprehensive data on participation of people with disabilities in medical research.

The consequences are bigger than misrepresentation of one-fifth of the UK population. Research might be skewed towards ‘healthier’ people, which puts its scientific validity into question.

During the pandemic-related overburden of healthcare system, people with disabilities were sometimes wrongly classified as frail and denied medical help. Additionally, the lengthy policies and lockdown rules were not understandable and accessible to all, which has put people with disabilities at further risk.

The solution is to increase the visibility of people with disabilities, encourage their career support and provide the public with appropriate, ongoing awareness training on unconscious bias towards disability.

As disability is still associated with poverty, unemployment and difficulties in accessing healthcare, the recruitment of disabled patients to clinical trials requires a dedicated approach. Medical communication should be accessible to all, and where appropriate, the carers of patients with disabilities included and consulted in clinical research.

Member Research Oral Presentations

Do traditional Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) exist in the same or different communities?

The authors identified and compared professional activities of KOLs (identified based on their publication record) and DOLs (identified based on their field-relevant Twitter activity) in atrial fibrillation. The two groups were then compared for online activity and publication records.

There was a vast gap between the communications activities of the two groups. KOLs were all publishing regularly and were almost entirely absent from social media, while DOLs had various levels of social media engagement and a similarly varied publication record.

These results indicate that KOLs and DOLs operate in different information spaces. This may change with time, as DOLs can gain or lose influence over time, while KOLs might discover new opportunities and channels of communication.

Reform and enhancement of scientific posters: what was the extent of innovation in 2020?

Scientific posters have been slowly evolving in the conference space, but the current shift towards virtual meetings has accelerated this change.

Researchers looked at three oncology congresses, ASCO, ESMO and EHA, to study how new redesigned posters were utilized. They considered features including templates with prominent conclusions, central figures or enhanced features available via QR code (such as narration, video or a plain language summary).

Of the three congresses, ASCO had the most posters with a reformatted layout, which points to a proactive promotion of those formats by the congress organizers. Additionally, more than half of posters at ASCO were accompanied by video narration.

Furthermore, the use of reformatted scientific posters at congresses in 2020 was most common in industry-sponsored presentations, particularly those developed with writing agency support.

Using social media to drive engagement with scientific posters

With changes to scientific meeting formats, posters have become less discoverable, and this has stimulated new approaches to design and signposting. Social media, particularly Twitter, are widely used at medical conferences and can serve to enhance the visibility and accessibility of posters.

However, not all tweets are equal. To drive traffic effectively, a tweet should include multimedia (a high-quality picture or a video clip) and a link leading to the poster. It should also use relevant hashtags, be related to other tweets and mention other Twitter users by name to enhance the visibility and reach of the post.

Perhaps most importantly, a social media profile needs a solid network of followers, and needs to stay active and visible beyond the congress date to drive optimal engagement with poster content.

What makes us an award winning HealthScience consultancy?

Our services are transformative: we’re experts in publications, medical affairs, informatics and patient engagement. Our people are extraordinary: we help clients to bring new treatments to the world in areas of unmet medical need. Our vision is powerful: we’re shaping the future through transparent and accessible research.

Take a look at what we do

1 February 2021

The 2021 European meeting of ISMPP: Day 1 key take-homes and insights

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Day 1 key take-homes and insights

This year’s ISMPP EU meeting went fully virtual, with some striking changes to the format, and delivered some powerful insights into current topics in medical publications and planning. You can read our thoughts on Day 2 here. Here’s what we learned from Day 1.

Opening Remarks & Plenary – Changing Times for the Publications and Scientific Communications Ecosystem: Addressing Challenges and Accelerating Innovation

As the format of medical conferences evolves in response to the global pandemic, digital meetings have become the mainstay around the world. This shift demands that sessions be more engaging, interesting, shorter and to facilitate the natural interactions that would happen in a face-to-face meeting. Along with the challenge comes the opportunity: the digital format allows for more inclusive, flexible and accessible information exchange.

In these times of an overwhelming volume of medical information and disinformation, the accessibility to high-quality written materials is also affected. In recognition of this, publishers are enhancing digital versions of articles with visual abstracts, research summaries and short-take videos.

All speakers recognized that it is now more important than ever to translate science to the public and make it widely accessible. The good news is that public trust towards the pharmaceutical industry has risen and is almost equal to that given to frontline healthcare workers, which presents greater opportunities to reach the lay audience and collaborate with patients.

The ongoing pandemic has heavily affected the healthcare system. There is an urgent need to improve healthcare accessibility beyond telemedicine and digital platforms, and find ways to resume halted clinical trials while ensuring safe participation of patients in clinical research.

Above all, the current situation presents an opportunity to re-focus on patients and find new dimension to collaboration.

Keynote: The Challenges of Communicating COVID-19 Science During an Era of Misinformation

Rather than wringing our hands in despair at misunderstandings in the COVID public debate, Tracey Brown (Director, Sense About Science) encouraged us to focus on opportunities for improved science communication and shared four top tips that should always be kept in mind.

Central to good science communication is asking the right questions, and then conveying that information to the right audience. Effective communication is not about volume and supply, but rather about achieving successful, targeted delivery to relevant recipients.

Scientific writers are usually aware of research legacy and context. They understand the rationale, quality and contribution of the data they are communicating. Yet audiences often consume information in isolation, without expertise or context, which creates opportunity for misinterpretation.

Effective scientific writing that is well received by (for example) a professional or governmental audience can help to cascade complex information down to lay audiences.

Humans like to deal in certainty, but scientific writing all but outlaws declarative statements; this absence of definitive statements can be ‘weaponized’ as uncertainty by the media. Science communicators should make explicit that is it possible to know something with confidence, even if some questions remain unanswered.

Communicating With A Lay Audience: Dubious Data and the Dangers of Miscommunication

Before developing content for lay consumption, the expert ISMPP speakers emphasized the importance of first understanding who the audience is, their prevailing knowledge, interests, trusted information sources/channels and their information-seeking behaviours. Once this has been established, it is then essential to be clear about the purpose of the communication – what are you trying to say and why?

We now live in an omnichannel age, where traditional broadcasting has been replaced with personalized communications. Content must be taken to the audience and tailored to the user profile, needs, knowledge and behaviours of each channel (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, podcasts, press) – plain language summaries just aren’t enough.

Communications professionals working on behalf of pharmaceutical clients to engage with lay audiences should: partner with trusted bodies, such as advocacy groups, to enhance content credibility; be aware of unconscious scientific biases and assumed levels of knowledge; consider the shareability of digital content; combine data overviews with patient stories and perspectives, and be mindful of potential compliance pitfalls (e.g. remain factual and on-label, avoid promotion, include risk profiles and a way to report adverse events).

Q&A – Patient Engagement in Publications: The ‘What’, ‘Who’, ‘Why’, ‘When’ and ‘How’

The faculty underlined the importance of using multiple channels to reach patients. Although many face-to-face interactions with healthcare professionals have been lost, patients have gained access to conferences and other engagement opportunities, which create a unique opportunity for them to influence their own treatment approaches and management strategies.

Importantly, patients are now recognized as research and publishing stakeholders, which has been reflected in the rise of patient-focused language in publications. The inclusion of plain language summaries in manuscripts is rising, with some becoming stand-alone, peer-reviewed, searchable publications. Publishers are also increasing the visibility and signposting of these materials. Additionally, patients are becoming recognized as potential co-authors of scientific publications.

Regardless of the chosen avenue of collaboration, interactions with patients should always be ethical, considerate and compliant with industry standards.

Q&A – Informatics and Data Visualisation: Harnessing the Power of Data

Information doesn’t exist in neatly structured formats; the relationships that make up our world are seldom linear. As such, using artificial intelligence (AI) to model information in a more expressive way can prevent a huge loss of knowledge in data analyses.

AI and machine learning technologies are complex, but the expert ISMPP speakers recommended that science communicators should invest in understanding them, at least at a conceptual level, as the application of AI is becoming ubiquitous across the product cycle. Expertise in communicating AI-supported research will be in increasing demand.

The key challenge when writing about AI is providing the audience with enough detail to gain trust, but not too much to overwhelm.

Tracy Altman (Founder of the Museum of AI) offered three tips for writing about AI. First, make the level of system autonomy clear – does it work alone or can it be over-ridden by humans? Second, beware of data visualizations masking meaning. Decision-makers’ insights and answers must be clearly communicated. Finally, use graphs as they are a powerful communication tool and help readers to infer meaning for themselves.

Q&A – Real World Evidence: The Next Level

Recognition of the value of real-world evidence (RWE) continues to grow across the product lifecycle and pharmaceutical companies are increasingly working with technology partners and alliances to access more integrated real-world data sources and optimized data analytics.

Sreeram (Ram) Ramagopalan (Global Head RWE, Roche) and Frederico Calado (Head RWE Innovation & Partnerships, Novartis) discussed social media as a rich source of RWE, particularly for value demonstration. Patient blogs, for example, can be coded to delineate data on disease, disease duration, therapy, comparative outcomes, relative healthcare resource use and treatment preferences. The challenges of data interpretation are non-trivial, but surmountable and worthwhile.

The increasing ubiquity of wearables, such as smart watches, also represents an emerging source of valuable patient-centric data. Studies are already underway to explore the potential of integrating ‘smart data’ with clinical and registry data to assess disease burden and treatment outcomes.

However, trust in RWE remains a challenge. Central to robust RWE reporting are: transparency around the use of appropriate methods (e.g. sources of bias); description and justification of data source selection; addressing perceptions of publication bias (e.g. a priori registration); and interpretation of the results in the context of established evidence, particularly where results contradict those of randomized controlled trials.

What makes us an award winning HealthScience consultancy?

Our services are transformative: we’re experts in publications, medical affairs, informatics and patient engagement. Our people are extraordinary: we help clients to bring new treatments to the world in areas of unmet medical need. Our vision is powerful: we’re shaping the future through transparent and accessible research.

Take a look at what we do

26 January 2021

European meeting of ISMPP 2021

Collaboration, connectivity and change

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